Supporting Novice Clinicians

Maria L. Munoz, PhD, CCC-SLP

Recipe SLP, The SLP’s source for affordable evidence-based how-to books.

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Last week I attended the Texas Speech Language and Hearing Association convention in San Antonio, Texas. I had a wonderful time meeting new people, seeing colleagues I haven’t seen in some time, and attending some really informative sessions. I love attending sessions that challenge my thinking and my approach to teaching.

One such session was “Supervisor Strategies for Managing Cognitive Load in Student’s Clinical Learning” by Dr. Lynnette Austin from Abilene Christian University.  Dr. Austin presented cognitive load theory as an alternative to the “sink or swim” or problem-based/discovery method of clinical instruction.  Clinical load theory models how information enters working memory, becomes organized in schemas, and is stored in long term memory (Austin, 2013).  To create schemas, students must manage three types of information: intrinsic load (the content to be learned), extrinsic load (how that content is encountered by the learner), and germane load (what is actually learned) (van Morrienboer and Sweller, 2010 as cited by Austin, 2013).  She emphasized the importance of scaffolding learning to help students manage these cognitive loads, and how student needs change as their knowledge and skills increase.  Providing adequate scaffolding and support is particularly critical in helping novice clinicians manage cognitive load.

I have a lot to learn about cognitive load theory.  I am intrigued  because it speaks to the goals of Recipe SLP. “The Clinician’s Guide to…” books are designed to help clinicians develop schema for how and why specific treatments work. Additionally, the books use a foundational understanding of the treatments as a springboard for implementing modifications and client specific adaptations. I’m going to keep exploring the literature to see if we can improve the scaffolding and supports inherent in our how-to guides.

I hope you are finding these books helpful!


Additional Readings:

Austin L. (2013). Scaffolding early clinical learning for students in communication sciences and disorders. Perspectives on Administration and Supervision, 23, 86-91. (Remember, if you are a member of one SIG you can access articles from any SIG!)

van Merrienboer, J. and Sweller, J. (2010). Cognitive load theory and health professional education: Design principles and strategies. Medical Education, 44, 85-93.


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